Sila Slona – Self-Titled; Montezuma’s Revenge – Them (2017)

Sila SlonaSila Slona (Zero Hero Recordings, 27 January 2017)

 

Montezuma’s RevengeThem (Zero Hero Recordings, 03 March 2017)

 

Anyone who has read or watched any sort of news in the United States over the past few months may have noticed that Russia is being mentioned in connection with nearly every story that’s being reported these days. That country is currently discussed more often in this country, than any other time in the past several decades — at least since August 1991. Not even during the Sochi Olympics do I recall having heard about Russia nearly this often.

But I’m not here to talk about political matters, and you certainly aren’t here to read about such nonsense either. So it seemed like a much more fitting idea would be to discuss some Russian music. Specifically, here are albums by two different bands from Moscow, which were both released earlier this year by Moscow-based Zero Hero Recordings. Enjoy!

 

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Video News: He Whose Ox is Gored, Cultura Tres, Eyehategod

 

Video News Update for 24 May 2017

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Conan – Blood Eagle (2014), Revengeance (2016)

ConanBlood Eagle (Napalm Records, 28 February 2014)

 

ConanRevengeance (Napalm Records, 29 January 2016)

 

Following our last article that covered a few of North‘s more recent releases, it only makes sense to talk about their current tour-mates Conan as well. The Merseysider trio has been around for over ten years — although the line-up has changed a few times: from 2011 (when their split record with Slomatics came out, which was the last release we discussed here) until the 2014 emergence of their second full-length Blood Eagle, Paul O’Neill had remained behind the drums, but Phil Coumbe had taken on bass/vocal duties; then by 2016 new drummer Rich Lewis had joined, and Chris Fielding (a prolific producer and engineer who had worked on all of Conan‘s previous releases) was added as bassist/vocalist. The only constant throughout the band’s career has been guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis, who also runs Black Bow Records in his spare time — oh and by the way, you may remember from when last year when we covered Boss Keloid‘s Herb Your Enthusiasm, which was a Black Bow release, Davis and Fielding both had guest spots on that record.

Well, it wouldn’t be accurate to say that Mr. Davis being part of the band continuously has been the only constant over the past decade-plus. The sound produced by this trio has perpetually been as savage and barbaric as the literary character from which their name was derived. To be specific, they identify themselves as “caveman battle doom” — and you’ll find, as we make our way through Blood Eagle and last year’s follow-up Revengeance, there really couldn’t be a more apt description …

 
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North – Siberia (2006-15), Metanoia (2014-15), Through Raven’s Eyes (2015), Light the Way (2016)

NorthSiberia (self-released, 01 May 2006 / re-released by Prosthetic Records, 02 June 2015)

 

NorthMetanoia (self-released, 11 March 2014 / re-released by Prosthetic Records, 02 June 2015)

 

NorthThrough Raven’s Eyes (Prosthetic Records, 14 August 2015)

 

NorthLight the Way (Prosthetic Records, 18 March 2016)

 

Well. Today is going to be all about North, a band who (naturally) come from the extreme southern part of Arizona, and who, as we mentioned a while back, are touring across the country with Conan. As you can see from the title of this post and that series of album covers just above, there’s going to be a ton of material to go over, so that’s all the introduction we have time for …

 

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Obituary – Ten Thousand Ways to Die (2016), Obituary (2017)

ObituaryTen Thousand Ways to Die (Relapse Records, 14 October 2016)

 

ObituaryObituary (Relapse Records, 17 March 2017)

 
One of the originators of the foundational Tampa, Florida death metal scene, formed well over 30 years ago (and using their current name since back in 1988) with three of the original members — brothers John Tardy (vocals) and Don Tardy (drums) and guitarist Trevor Peres — continuously part of the line-up ever since, surely you — visitor to a website devoted to metal music — know Obituary, right? And if I told you they had a new single available with two songs (one of which can’t be found anywhere else) that also includes basically a whole live album worth of bonus tracks, AND that they followed that with a brand-new full-length album that easily stands up among the band’s decades-long discography, what more do you need from me aside from links where you can go and buy these new releases? (See the bottom of this page, below the videos and above the Bandcamp players. Also check below that, for information on the band’s tour dates over the next few days, including a stop in Pittsburgh TONIGHT!)

But I know not everyone out there is a lifelong death metal enthusiast. I’ll readily admit that I myself listen to the genre far less than many other styles of metal, and a main reason for that is that so many of the bands all sound alike and the sound of the music often seems stagnant and stale. But every so often something comes along where the band clearly is doing everything the right way — and with the rare stability and consistency Obituary has enjoyed over all these years, they certainly exemplify that. So I’ll assume that if you’re still with me, you aren’t already a huge fan of the band BUT perhaps curious enough to keep reading this far. Great, so here we go …

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Opeth – Sorceress (2016)

opeth_sorceress_promocover_revised

OpethSorceress (Moderbolaget Records / distributed by Nuclear Blast, 30 September 2016)

 
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Abbey Road. “The White Album.” Widely considered to be hugely influential milestones in the history of recorded music. And yet the group responsible for these masterpieces began its career with mindless bubblegum-pop: stuff like “Love, love me do / You know I love you / I’ll always be true / So please love me do,” “She loves you, yeah yeah yeah / She loves you, yeah yeah yeah / She loves you, yeah yeah yeah yeah,” and “I wanna hold your hand / I wanna hold your hand / I wanna hold your hand / I wanna hold your hand.”

Certainly that’s a pretty extreme example, but the point here is that when a band experiences a seismic styistic shift, it isn’t always catastrophic, and can even be a positive thing. Naturally, when this occurs it can sometimes be unnerving to fans of the artist’s earlier work (and of course there have been plenty of moments where such a move did turn out to be a major misstep), but it never ceases to confound me, how often and how passionately hatred is spewed in the direction of Opeth for having developed a different sound over their quarter-century-plus career. This group of Swedes receives just as many nasty comments (particularly if the band is ever mentioned in the context of a metal festival or anything to do with metal music) for NOT making the same album over and over, as Six Feet Under does for essentially the exact opposite transgression.

The transition from death metal to progressive death metal occurred very early in this band’s existence, and it was the latter guise that caught most fans’ attention, gaining the ensemble a huge following. But throughout the course of a dozen full-length albums, gradually the elements of “death” had dropped away, and ultimately “metal” as well, landing Opeth squarely in the realm of “progressive” music, and leaving many earlier devotees feeling shortchanged. Nevertheless, in this reviewer’s opinion the band’s latest effort, last September’s Sorceress stands up quite well — when one judges it on its own merits, rather than attempting a side-by-side comparison with Still Life or Blackwater Park. And with that in mind, let’s jump right in.
 
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